By Samantha Bailey-Loomis
Superintendent Hamlet Hernandez unveiled his proposed $51.8 million budget to the Board of Education last week, focusing on “systemic improvement by reallocating resources.” Moving quickly into the New Year, much like year’s past, the Board of Education holds its budget meetings to review, reflect, and reform Branford’s public schools, learning and evaluation strategies, and other programs held accountable by the Board.
Under Hernandez’s proposed budget, according to the presentation, class size will remain constant, the student to technology ratio will remain the same, Branford Public Schools will maintain World Language in elementary schools (implemented last year), and will seek to maintain a teacher model for expanding numbers of ELL (English Language Learners).
“As the Superintendent’s budget currently stands, it will not cause a reduction in any programs or change in current policies here at Branford High School” explains Lee Panagoulias, principal at Branford High School.
During the meeting, the results from the Branford Budget Priority Survey were presented, which show that 39% of all Branford adults surveyed had students in the middle school level, elementary school parents accounting for 39%, while only 32% of parents say that they had one or more high school level students.
Considering these facts, this new budget seeks to “expand opportunities” to those students in younger levels of education. In addition, it seeks to “develop and implement a quality summer learning program for selected elementary students”. The new budget, which will increase 2.95% by $1,482,777, in addition to being “distributed among salaries, benefits, supplies, benefits, etc.”, will also assist to the transition to the CCSS (Common Core State Standards) which will mandate SDE (State Department of Education) teacher evaluations, both which will “transform teaching and learning”.
Although with what seems like a major increase in the budget at 2.95%, this increase is smaller than the preceding years. The projected budget for the fiscal year 2014 will be about $51,780,381, which is, once again, a 2.95% increase from the last fiscal year 2013 which was 3.97% and the fiscal year 2012, which was 3.10%.
It was recently announced that those who were anticipating attending the budget workshop on February 6th in the Branford High School Library should refrain from doing so, as that meeting is cancelled.